Eminent biologist and cancer researcher Inder Verma has resigned from the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences in La Jolla, California according to an announcement made by the institute on the 11th of June 2018. This has followed the temporary suspension of Verma since 21st of April this year after several allegations of gender discrimination and sexual harassment from female scientists against him.
After receiving the complaints the Salk Institute had started an internal probe into the matter. Verma has since then repeatedly denied the allegations made against him. In a statement to the media he said, “I have never used my position at the Salk Institute to take advantage of others. I have also never engaged in any sort of intimate relationship with anyone affiliated with the Salk Institute. I have never inappropriately touched, nor have I made any sexually charged comments, to anyone affiliated with the Salk Institute. I have never allowed any offensive or sexually charged conversations, jokes, material, etc. to occur at the Salk Institute.”
The board of trustees were to meet on the 11th of June to discuss the findings of the investigation. Before they could conclude their investigation, Verma resigned according to the institute statement.
Chair of the Board of Trustees Dan Lewis had said in an earlier written statement, “Based on the findings of the investigator, the Institute has considered appropriate responsive action.” However in the week before the board met Verma submitted his “unconditional resignation”, Lewis said.
Inder Verma is one of the leading scientists working with gene therapy and cancer. He has worked on brain tumours and lung diseases. He was in an administrative capacity at the institute as well where he had a say in hiring, promotions and funding within the institute.
In 2017 three female professors at Salk (Biologists Katherine Jones, Vicki Lundblad and Beverly Emerson) had filed lawsuits with allegations regarding gender discriminations in cases of grants and promotions and salaries compared to their male counterparts. After the lawsuits and allegations Verma was put on leave as editor of the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He resigned from the post in May this year.
Lewis added that thus has been a challenging time for the institute and the board has unanimously accepted Verma’s resignation. The lawsuits are slated to be tried later this year in December.